A BENEFIT cheat who took £18,861 through fraudulent claims has been ordered to pay back the money.

Gayle Riley, aged 39, of Cotswold Road, Orford, appeared at Halton Magistrates Court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to three counts of benefit fraud.

Riley claimed £8,629 housing benefit and £1,816 council tax benefit and £8,416 income support falsely from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Riley was claiming the money as a single parent and failed to declare that her partner had moved into the property.

Riley was handed a 16 week prison sentence, suspended for two years, ordered to pay costs of £580 and pay back the £18,861.

Adrian Webster, Warrington Borough Council's benefits manager said: "All benefit theft is crime. There are no exceptions and that is why the council is determined to bring fraudsters to justice.”

Anyone who suspects someone is fraudulently claiming benefits can call the council’s confidential benefit fraud hotline on 442282/442283 or e-mail fraudteam@warrington.gov.uk.